MTG Beta - Second Print Run of Magic's First Set

Limited Edition Beta

We are continuing our little time travel trough Magic's oldest expansions with the famous Limited Edition Beta. Now, Beta was very similar to Alpha in many ways, but there are also a lot of things that distinct the two! 


Let's take a look at the Limited Edition Beta. 


Our goal is to give new and experienced players an overview for collecting this iconic second print run of Magic's first expansion.

We'll aim to answer a couple very important questions:

  • Why is Beta so valuable?
  • What are the most expensive cards?
  • Graded vs. ungraded cards?
  • What misprints to look out for?
  • How to spot fake Beta cards?
  • Where to buy Beta cards?

Set Information: Beta

The Limited Edition Beta was released on October 4, 1993, only a few months after the release of the Limited Edition Alpha in August. It consisted of 302 cards (and there's actually a pretty funny backstory on why) and the rarity distribution was as follows:

75 commons, 95 uncommons, 117 rares and 15 basic lands.

What looked the Beta Print Run like?

The print run of Beta was roughly 7,600,000. Estimations suggest, that every rare from Beta has been printed 3,025 times. That means the Beta rares are three times as common as the rares from Alpha. The same is roughly also true for Uncommons and Commons. There are around 13,590 Beta Uncommons and 48,100 Beta Commons.

The Print Sheets of Beta

Like with Alpha, there have been different print sheets for Common, Uncommon and Rare cards. This time, there are only four copies of Island on the Rare print sheet. Then again, it is possible to get a land in each slot: Common, Uncommon or Rare slot. The chances for each rarity to be replaced by a land are: 3.31% for Rares, 21.5% for Uncommons, and 38.02% for Commons.

Most Expensive Cards: Beta

One of the most expensive cards ever sold (that we know of) was actually not an Alpha card but a Beta artist-proof Black Lotus. We already mentioned this in our article covering Alpha cards: The famous rapper Post Malone announced that he bought an artist-proof Beta Black Lotus signed by Christopher Rush for roughly $800,000.
(Source: CGM Online)

What are Artist-proof Cards?

Artist-proof cards are sent to the respective artist of the card to sign and give-away (or sell). Those cards have a blank back and are therefore very easy to identify as such. You can find examples of artist-proofs in our webshop (currently sold out) or on the websites of the various artists.
(Source: MTG Old School Blog)
Other expensive cards from Beta are of course similar to Alpha:
The Power Nine
Black Lotus
Ancestral Recall
Time Walk
Mox Sapphire
Mox Ruby
Mox Pearl
Mox Jet
Mox Emerald

    These nine cards will be up with the most expensive cards no matter what, but there are a few honorable mentions that can get very close or even surpass the price of some Power Nine pieces. 

    One of these cards is the Volcanic Island. The reason is very simple: There is no Volcanic Island in Alpha, so the Beta Volcanic Island is actually its first print ever. 

    What are the most Expensive Non-Power Beta Cards?

    Other very expensive Limited Edition Beta cards are Wheel of Fortune, Birds of Paradise and Shivan Dragon, which sell for around €1,500 to €2,000.

    This is all very similar to the Limited Edition Alpha, and it comes to no surprise that the Dual Lands from Beta are also highly in demand because of their black borders. Examples for this are the popular Underground Sea or Tropical Island.

    Graded versus Ungraded Cards

    Again, this is very similar to Alpha: Starting with the condition of the cards and then graded versus ungraded cards, there can be huge price jumps.

    For example: You can get a Beta Forest in Poor condition for around €8, but the same card in Near Mint will cost you almost four times as much (around €30).

    Big Differences in Price for Graded Cards

    The biggest difference will be when you are looking to buy a Near Mint graded Beta Forest. The first BGS 9 Forest on Cardmarket is currently selling for €80, 10-times as much as our Poor Beta Forest.

    Now we are talking about a Beta Basic Land, imagine what these price differences will do to a Power Nine card.

    Important Beta Misprints

    Many misprints and production errors from Alpha have been fixed in Beta. No more wrong artist credits, and they actually included Circle of Protection: Black and Volcanic Island this time.

    Lots of Miscuts and Crimped Cards

    Among the most commonly known misprints are of course miscuts and crimped cards. These are not actually misprints, but rather miscellaneous mistakes that happen during production. They are also not exclusive to Beta, but could have happened to any card in any set.

    Anyhow, these miscuts and crimped cards are rarer than other cards and can therefore be very valuable to collectors, especially if they are 30 years old!

    (Source: MTG Old School Blog)

    The Famous Beta Nightmare Misprint

    One of the most famous Beta misprints can be found on Nightmare. The card is notorious to have a smear located on the M and P in the word swamps. Depending on the card, that area can also stretch in a vertical line towards the word toughness and even into the flavor text. 

    Tavis King has a great video on his YouTube channel showing off the famous misprint. 

    How to Identify Fake Beta Cards?

    When looking at counterfeit Beta cards, there are two common practices. One of them is the already mentioned inking.

    What are Inked Cards?

    The idea was to color the frame of an Unlimited card black with a sharpie, thus giving it a black frame. That way, an Unlimited card could be mistaken as a Beta card, because they roughly look the same in all other regards. 

    Unlimited Tropical Island and Inked Unlimited Tropical Island

    What is Rebacking?

    Another fairly common idea was to use the front picture from Collectors' Edition and International Edition cards and glue them to cheap Beta backs to fake more expensive Beta cards. This process is called Rebacking. The front of CE and IE cards look almost identical to the front of Beta cards, so if the process is done right, it can be very hard to spot!

    Here are some tricks to identify rebacked cards:

    1. Watch out for the alignment of the mana cost inside the grey circle (for example, on Mox Sapphire and Black Lotus)
    2. Weight Test: Normally, a Beta card should weigh around 1.72g and 1.74g. Rebacks almost always weigh more than that, by a significant amount.

    If you would like to know more about how to spot fake cards in general, we have a great article about the topic on our website! You can find it here.

    In the Past, Everything was Cheaper

    Back then, a full set of CE/IE cards roughly cost $50, so people rebacked their gold-bordered cards so they could be played with their black-bordered cards.

    This can be very pricey nowadays, especially if you want to reback a Black Lotus, since a Collectors' Edition Black Lotus already sells by itself for over €2,000.


    Where to Buy Beta Cards?

    You already collected all the Alpha cards and want to get going with Limited Edition Beta next? Start by going through our very own webshop and see if there are any cards you want. Here you can find all our rarest Beta cards, like Ancestral Recall or Black Lotus

    Next up, you will want to fill the blanks with all the cheaper Beta cards. You can find those cheaper cards on our Cardmarket page (if you are located in Europe) or on our CardTrader page (if you are located somewhere else in the world). 

    The next thing you need to do when looking for Beta cards is:

    Subscribe to our New Arrivals Drop

    Every Wednesday, each week of the year, we get new High-End cards. That includes new Alpha cards, and you'll be the first one to know when the cards you are looking for are available!

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